Spotlight on once-monthly long-acting injectable aripiprazole and its potential as maintenance treatment for bipolar I disorder in adult patients

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment






Adherence; Antipsychotic; Mood stabilizer; Partial agonist; Review


© 2018 Torres-Llenza et al. The lack of long-term medication adherence is a challenge in the treatment of bipolar disorder, particularly during the maintenance phase when symptoms are less prominent. The rate of nonadherence is ~20%–60% depending on how strict a definition is used. Nonadherence worsens the course of bipolar disorder and can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the lifetime cost of treating the illness. Long-acting injectable (LAI) medication is an attractive alternative to daily dosing of oral medication, especially among patients who are ambivalent about treatment. The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence for the safety and efficacy of LAI aripiprazole, which was recently approved for the treatment of bipolar disorder. The approval was based on a single double-blind, placebo-controlled, multisite trial that recruited participants from 103 sites in 7 countries. A total of 731 participants with bipolar disorder were enrolled in the study. Out of that total, 266 were successfully stabilized on LAI aripiprazole and entered the randomization phase. Treatment-emergent adverse events were, for the most part, mild to moderate. Akathisia was the most common adverse event, which, combined with restlessness, was experienced by 23% of the sample. At the end of the 52-week study period, nearly twice as many LAI-treated participants remained stable compared to those treated with placebo. Stability during the maintenance phase is arguably the most important goal of treatment. It is during this period of relative freedom from symptoms that patients are able to build a meaningful and satisfying life. The availability of a new treatment agent, particularly one that has the potential to enhance long-term adherence, is a welcome development.

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